The connected house

Today's blog is going to be pretty short because it's really just a quick idea dump, because I'm pretty tired.

It's not exactly a new idea, a connected house - one that knows what's happens inside it, and can communicate this to the world. If you go back and look at predictions of the future (love this blog) from anytime in the 20th Century, you'll see the concept of home automation - mostly in the form of robot servants and helpers. While I think robotics is still a way off from this, we can build homes that are "aware" and networked right now - putting sensors on different things and connecting them to the internet allows great control. Andy Stanford-Clark has built a range of sensors into his home, and connected them to Twitter, so he can follow his house. There are services that'll do this for you, but they're massively expensive and not very customised. The Twitter house is build using open-source hardware, and some programming skills for much less. That's something I'd love to do myself (once I actually get a house).

Here's what I would try to connect up:

  • Temperature sensors - so I can adjust heating for energy efficiency.
  • Electricity sensors - monitor the amount of electricity I'm using, for the whole house, and for particular appliances.
  • Light sensors - so I can adjust lighting around the house, and maybe automate some lights.
  • Phone sensor - detect's whos called, and when.
  • Water sensor - to increase water use efficiency.
  • Broadband speed test - see my blog about this.
  • Doorbell sensor - so I can tell if someone's called while I'm out.
  • Hacked Kinect - for advanced motion sensing, maybe even detect who's in the room.
  • A screen - showing me real-time energy use, and other relevant information.

I'd connect this to not only Twitter, but to some sort of system for data mining it so that I could extract more information on how the house is being used. Maybe I could even incorporate some external things, to increase efficiency. This is part of another of my small obsessions, the Internet of Things, which is explained really well in this IBM video.

That's just a quick dump of ideas that I had, I'm sure that I could think up more. The hard bit is making all the data consistent and interoperable. I think I'll start small with a CurrentCost energy meter :-)